Some of the birds at Thattekkad, 08,09,100110

February 24, 2010

The Thattekkad visit was excellent in terms of birding, but we had some less-than-happy experiences in terms of our accomodation, because of our bird guide. As a bird guide, Mr.Eldhose is excellent, and showed us a great variety of birds. He is very knowledgeable; for example, he said that the Indian Pitta was earlier coming out at 6pm, now it was coming out only at 6.20pm…and lo and behold, at 6.20pm, there the bird was, responding to his call!

But…in the matter of accomodation, and being with us for the entire time that we had booked him (three months in advance) he completely let us down, and told us things that were quite untrue (eg, that accomodation at Jungle Bird Homestay was not available. We stayed at Sanctuary Homestay, and when I went across to say hello to Sudha, she showed me three empty rooms, and mentioned the politics that exists.)

Here are some of the birds that I managed to get on my SMS (Shamelessly Mediocre Shots)…if it takes me more than a month to get these photographs uploaded without any post-processing, you can imagine how long it would take if I had decided on doing that, too! In fact, most of the photographs would have got deleted, as they are not good ones to begin with.

Two of the most spectacular birds were the whimsically-named


asian fairy bluebird tk 080110

and the


ruby-throated bulbul tk 090110

(also called the Black-crested, or the Ruby-throated Bulbul)

Here’s a video of this spectacular bird!

We started with the RED SPURFOWL Photobucket and while the others were photographing it through the hide, I saw this DARTER or SNAKE-BIRD in the reeds: darter 080110 The number of FLYCATCHERS we saw at the evening hide, where Eldhose had made a small rock-pool, was just amazing. Well in front of the hide, though, was this BROWN-BREASTED FLYCATCHER: brown-breasted flycatcher tk 080110 and a little further, this lovely little ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER: asian brown flycatcher thattekkad 080110 Taking photographs through a little opening in the hide (which was a green curtain set across the path) was a real challenge, because there were four of us. The openinng that I could reach was right at the edge, where the path itself was sloping up into the grass, and all I could get were my famous SMS (Shamelessly Mediocre Shots)...I had no tripod or remote trigger! But I forgot all that as the birds flashed in and out of the pool, in a very wary series of water-dances. They would just be there for a fraction of a second, and disappear; it was only later that a couple of birds stayed for a bit more. So...those who have photographed birds through hides (especially from an uncomfortable corner!) will know the actual difficulty of getting the shots. Here are the VERDITER FLYCATCHER and the BLUE-THROATED FLYCATCHER: verditer and blue-throated flycatcher tk hide 080110 Then came the Blue-throated Flycatcher with its other cousin, the WHITE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER: blue-throated flycatcher and white-bellied flycatcher tk 080110 In a millisecond flash of its exquisite finery, the ASIAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER came and went, too: paradise flycatcher hide 080110 The others looked at what I thought was a good shot on my camera and told me that I could go home now and leave the vent to them! It was only later that I realized that I had got one more Foozly shot! But this one of the ORANGE-HEADED THRUSH is better... orange-headed thrush hide tk 080110 No birdlist from Thattekkad would be complete without the obligatory shot of those sitting ducks, so here's the CEYLON FROGMOUTH ceylong frogmouth 08010 The first morning, as I trailed behind the others, I saw this beautiful pair of MALABAR GREY HORNBILLS above the path: malabar grey hornbills tk 080110 There were a lot of the RACKET-TAILED DRONGOS everywhere, but as the others took pictures at the hide, I looked up to see this one silhouetted against the dusk, busily eating a grasshopper: racket-tailed drongo with ghopper tk 090110 Here's the video of its dinner: Another lovely sighting was that of the JUNGLE OWLET: jungle owlet 080110 jungle owlet tk 090110 tk here's a vidwo of where the bird was, and how we zoomed in: It was not too easy to sight the BLACK-THROATED MUNIAs black-throated munia tk 090110 but we did manage to see them in the reeds near the shore, and I took a video, too: One of the lifers for me was the BANDED BAY CUCKOO banded bay cuckoo tk 090110 Here's Eldhose playing the call to get the bird out of the thick foliage: I sighted this CRIMSON-FRONTED BARBET at a distance from the sheet-rock that we were standing on, looking for the Cuckoo: crimson-fronted barbet tk 090110 Other birds were all around, too, like this DOLLARBIRD (why is it called that?) high up on a SILK-COTTON tree: dollarbird tk 090110 A BLACK-HOODED ORIOLE: black-hooded oriole tk 090110 Several specimens of the PLUM-HEADED PARAKEET: plum-headed parakeet tk 090110 We were able to see two ORIENTAL HONEY BUZZARDs flying together! two oriental honey buzzards 090110 tk the lousiest shot I got was of the INDIAN PITTA which arrived in response to Eldhose's call after dusk the others did manage to get much better shots than that...but Amogh had just recovered my MLC2 lens cap from the lake and I was completely unnerved by the near-loss (well, anyway, that's my excuse!) and I had not made the settings properly on my camera at all. indian pitta 090110 tk

On the last morning, we saw a whole lot of


on the wires, atop the Periyar (big river):

ashy woodswallow periyar tk 100110

But the closing bonus was Sudeesh telling Amogh about this beauitul


…not a 100 metres from where we were staying1

100110 tk brown hawk owl

A very satisfying birding trip indeed….